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APPLICATION STRATEGY 2020: Arizona Antelope

2020 Arizona antelope application strategy article


Main writer: Jordan Christensen of The Draw

Arizona's 2020 antelope application overview

Jump to: NEW FOR 2020 State Information Draw System Antelope points

Drawing an antelope tag in the Grand Canyon state is about as likely as drawing a desert bighorn tag. The odds are brutal. With only a few permits across the state compared to many of the other western states, it begs the question: why would someone invest a single dollar into that draw? If antelope is your thing, then Arizona is one of your best chances to break that 80”+ mark and there is always a chance you will get a tag. Every unit can and does produce Boone & Crockett (B&C) bucks—some with more consistency than others. Regardless, if you are purchasing the required license for any other species in the state—to not give Arizona antelope a chance would be unfortunate.

Note: The online application deadline for Arizona antelope is Feb. 11, 2020 at 11:59 p.m. MST. You can apply online here.


New for 2020

Note: Paper applications are no longer accepted.

Convenience fee

If you choose to purchase your hunting license or any other permits through any vendor other than the Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD) you could be subject to a convenience fee added to the transaction. Previously, vendors billed the state $1 for all transactions. This is no longer the case and, if the vendor wants to be compensated for their time selling the license or permit, they are now allowed to add a service fee to the transaction in order to be compensated if they choose. 

Point Guard

This program provides hunters with peace of mind in knowing that they can surrender their tag for any reason without losing their coveted bonus points. Point Guard coverage costs $5 per species. See more details here.

Failed credit card payments

If you're applying online, make sure to keep your credit card payment information current and up-to-date. If your payment is declined at the time of the draw, your application will not be drawn. AZGFD will no longer call customers to obtain payment on drawn applications where credit cards have failed. The deadline for updating your credit or debit card information online is 11:59 p.m. MST on Feb. 27, 2020.


State information

Below you can find important information and an overview of Arizona’s rules/regulations, the draw system, bonus points, tag and license fees, and an interactive boundary line map on our State Profile. You can also view the Arizona Antelope Profile to access historical and statistical data to help you find trophy units.

Arizona State Profile Antelope Profile Draw Odds Antelope Filtering 2.0

Important dates and information

  • The deadline to apply online is Feb. 11, 2020 at 11:59 p.m. MST.
  • The deadline to update credit card information is Feb. 27, 2020.
  • Payment must be made by Visa or Mastercard for online applications.
  • Up to 10% of the available tags for any hunt code can be awarded to nonresidents.
  • If you are unsuccessful in the draw, then you will be awarded a bonus point for that species.
  • The Arizona Big Game Super Raffle drawing will be held on July 12, 2020. More information can be found here.

Continuing to provide the most accurate Arizona draw odds

You have access to the most accurate draw odds by utilizing Arizona Draw Odds on INSIDER. Since the change in the draw system in 2016, many nonresidents have the opportunity to draw tags that were previously unattainable for anyone who did not have a high number of points.

Arizona's 2016 bonus and random pass draw change
* There is no guarantee that nonresidents will draw all of their allotted tags in the Random Draw, so it is possible that the nonresident 10% cap may not be met in some hunt choices.

Using the draw odds detailed pages for Arizona, you’ll quickly be able to see how the draw system change affected hunters with minimal points and for those max point holders.


The current drought status in Arizona

Arizona drought status as of late January 2020

Arizona drought status as of January 14, 2020. Source: United States Drought Monitor

Compared to 2018, things have really taken a turn for the better in Arizona like many of the other western states. The bulk of the state is out of any drought conditions and the small section of the state in a moderate drought (8.4%) is largely in the northwest corner of the state outside of most elk hunting units.

Arizona drought status January 2019

Arizona drought status as of January 15, 2019. Source: United States Drought Monitor

Arizona, like all western states, has been under historic drought conditions for many years. Although there have been abnormal amounts of snow in the upper elevations of Arizona this winter, the state as a whole is so far behind the curve that the snow and rain will need to stay consistent for some time in order to fully recover.

Arizona drought monitor as of January 16 2018

2018 Arizona drought update as of January 16, 2018. Source: United States Drought Monitor

Below you can see the comparison to January 10, 2017, where nearly 60% of Arizona was under drought conditions.


The Arizona draw system

Understanding the draw

Arizona allows its applicants to apply for up to five choices; however, only the first two selections are considered during the first pass. Historically, all bull elk permits have been awarded during this first pass, which makes selections three, four and five mostly irrelevant. 

Increasing points

Arizona has a modified bonus system in place. Essentially, what this means is that it is a bucket of raffle tickets; the more points you have, the more tickets in the bucket you have. If you happen to be in the maximum point pool for any particular hunt code, then there is typically way fewer tickets in that bucket and you have a much stronger chance of drawing—even up to 100% on rare occasions, especially for nonresidents. 

There are four ways to increase your bonus points:

  1. Earn a bonus point each time you are unsuccessful in the draw (one point per year).
  2. Apply for “bonus points only” to gain a bonus point in the event that you do not want to risk drawing a tag until you have a higher number of points.
  3. You can also travel to Arizona and take a hunter education course and earn a permanent bonus point for every species.
  4. Earn a loyalty point. An applicant is awarded this point by applying for a species for five consecutive years. This is also a species-specific point and this point will not be taken away when you draw a tag, but will be purged if you miss a year of applying. You will have to start all over again.

If you are successful in the draw, then your bonus points will revert back to zero. If you have earned loyalty and/or hunter education point, then you will keep those two potential points. If you fail to apply for five consecutive years, then all points will be lost.

Unlike many states, where if you don’t have the points you have no chance of getting a tag, Arizona gives hunters with even zero points a chance. Even if you don’t draw anything this year, you can get a bonus point to increase your chances next year. You can apply for bonus points only in Arizona, but you must buy the $160 nonrefundable hunting license and pay a $15 application fee per species. You may also add an additional $5 to each application per year if you choose to add Point Guard on years you are applying to hunt, which adds a level of protection for unseen events that would prevent you from hunting if drawn.

2020 top hit list hunt units to consider for 80" or better bucks
(in order of percentage of public land)

Unit Trophy
potential
Public land % Harvest
%
Unit 5BN 80"+ 87% Archery: 0%
Rifle: 100%
Unit 5A 80"+ 83.2% Archery: 0%
Rifle: 71%
Unit 9 80"+ 76.6% Archery: 0%
Rifle: 25%
Unit 17A 80"+ 72.5% Rifle: 0%
Unit 19A 80"+ 70.1% First archery: 50%
Second archery: 75%
Muzzleloader: 100%
Rifle: 100%
Unit 18B 80"+ 59.2% Archery: 0%
Rifle: 0%
Unit 2B 80"+ 56.8% Muzzleloader: 0%
Unit 18A 80"+ 52.1% Archery: 0%
Muzzleloader: 100%
Rifle: 0%
Unit 4B 80"+ 47% Archery:100%
Rifle: 68%
Unit 2A 80"+ 42.1% Rifle: 32%
Unit 10 80"+ 39.2% Archery: 57%
Rifle: 93%
Unit 19B 80"+ 38.9% First archery: 0%
Second archery: 100%
Muzzleloader: 100%
Rifle: 0%

How to uncover hidden gem antelope units

With so few antelope permits across the state, the reality is there really are no hidden gems. Every hunt in the state is very difficult to draw with less than 20 points. However, if you are looking for a slight advantage, take a look at the Draw Odds, which will help you identify hunt—particularly archery hunts that tend to have slightly better odds. You can also study Filtering 2.0 and review details like the number of applicants who have been applying for one hunt or the other. Given that you are allowed to apply for two choices that are considered during the first pass, it's always a good idea to swing for the fence and apply for what you believe to be the best hunt in the state as your first choice. Then, chase the odds as a second choice and, regardless of which choice you draw, count your blessings as there are many who will never hunt speedgoats in the Grand Canyon State. 

Arizona antelope tag quota comparison 2019

Hidden gem units: 2020 archery antelope hunts with the best draw odds and chance at 75"+ bucks (resident)

Unit Trophy
potential
Buck:doe
ratio
Draw odds
with 10 points
Harvest
success
Unit 6B 75"+ 30:100 100% 0%
Unit 3BN 75"+ 20:100 12% 100%
Unit 3BS 75"+ 20:100 13% 0%
Unit 10 80"+ 31:100 9.4% 39%
Unit 31/32 75"+ 49:100 8.6% 0%
Unit 18B 80"+ 12:100 7.8% 0%

 

Hidden gem units: 2020 archery antelope hunts with the best draw odds and chance at 75"+ bucks (nonresident)

Unit Trophy
potential
Buck:doe
ratio
Draw odds
with 10 points
Harvest
success
Unit 6B 75"+ 30:100 14% 0%
Unit 1 75"+ 16:100 6.3+% 38%
Unit 19A 80"+ 46:100 Early 2.1%
Late 3.4%
50%
75%
Unit 10 80"+ 31:100 1.3% 57%
Unit 4B 80"+ 40:100 4.1% 100%
Unit 3A 75"+ 37:100 7.4% 0%

For more information on locating hidden gem antelope units, jump over to Arizona's antelope species profile to learn how to find and sort antelope information on Filtering 2.0. Click the button below to see how to use this feature.

Arizona Antelope Species Profile


The points system for antelope

  • 2020 maximum resident bonus points for antelope: 30
  • 2020 maximum nonresident bonus points for antelope: 30

Managing points and expectations

Strap your boots tight as this is going to be a long push. Drawing an antelope hunt in Arizona starts out with extremely low odds and after 20 years they are still going to be extremely low. This is not about a finish line or a chance to check the box on this species; this is about having a chance to hunt the biggest antelope on earth. If you get a chance, it will be because the stars aligned and you were incredibly lucky. Period. Unless something dramatically changes, you will never reach the maximum point pool—even if you were to start when you were 10 years old. However, if you are already purchasing the required license to apply for another species of interest, it would be a mistake not to throw your name in the hat. If the odds of drawing are .01% the first time you apply and with 20 points they are .09%, the reality is that you have the same odds as anyone else. Equal odds are good odds no matter how low the actual number is.

Arizona resident antelope bonus point totals going into the 2020 draw

Arizona nonresident antelope bonus point totals going into the 2020 draw

Arizona antelope bonus points going into 2020

I have 0 points. What can I expect? 

Residents

Even though your odds are very low across the board, you can always draw in the random pass in one of the best units in the state. If you would like to be a little more aggressive, then use your second choice to apply for a permit you would be happy with that has less applicants applying each year. Who knows? Maybe you will be one of the lucky ones.

Nonresidents

The long and short is that yes, you can draw; however, it is a very long shot and, after many years of applying, the odds will likely not get any better. This application should be part of your application strategy if you are looking to hunt areas that produce exceptional trophies and you are already investing in the hunting license for another species. For an extra $15-$20 per year, why not? 

What can I do with 3 or 4 antelope bonus points?

Unfortunately, there has been very little movement in your odds in the last few years. The odds are still very long and, outside of some resident archery permits, this goal is still a long shot at any given year.

Residents

There are three archery hunts that you now have over a 5% chance of drawing: Unit 3B North and 3B South as well as Unit 6B North. Harvest success in these units is often very low, so buyer beware, but if having a chance to go hunting is more important than the likelihood of success while hunting than these units will be your best bet. Apply for a top-shelf unit as your first choice and swing for the fence. Who knows? You could be one of the lucky ones. 

Nonresidents

Unit 6B North archery hunt had a 6.3% chance of drawing with only 17 total applicants. If you are chasing the odds, be careful as this hunt is often unsuccessful and the harvest rate is 0%. However, if you do choose to roll the dice, at a minimum, apply for a home run unit like Unit 10 with the most number of nonresident licenses available as your first choice. Who knows? Maybe you’ll get lucky. 

What can I expect with 9 or 10 antelope bonus points?

Residents

If you are looking for a chance to go hunting, you can now draw the Unit 6B North archery permit in the maximum point pool. With a 0% success rate on this hunt it's definitely worth a second look before you simply jump into this draw. If you are interested in a hunt with a higher average success rate, then continue applying as you have. Unfortunately, you are still quite a ways out from any other draw—especially a rifle permit. Yet, any given year could be yours, so stick with it. As a resident, it just wouldn’t make sense not to be applying for every species in the state. 

Nonresidents

Ten years is a long time to wait on a hunt and it’s exceptionally long for an antelope, considering all of the different opportunities you have in states like Wyoming, New Mexico and Colorado. Chances are you are applying for another species, which is the reason you started down the path in the first place. Stay the course for $15 to $20 a year, depending on whether you opt into the Point Guard or not. You will have a chance to hunt some of the biggest this species has to offer. If you are to a point where you are only applying in Arizona for antelope and have drawn all of the other species you set out to hunt, maybe take a second look. You will not lose your points for five years in Arizona if you choose not to apply and, unfortunately, you really have a very small chance—if any—of reaching a maximum point status in any reputable units. If you are looking for a chance to hunt and check the box on this species, it can be done much easier than Arizona. 

What can I expect with 15 or 20 antelope bonus points?

Residents

In 2019, there were 28 different archery hunts you could draw in the maximum point pool with 20 points. Some of these units have incredible track records for producing giant bucks. If you are not interested in waiting any longer use Filtering 2.0 to get a better understanding of which units have all the different qualifiers you are looking for. Unfortunately, you are still a long ways from being in the maximum point pool for any top-shelf rifle hunts, but, with 20 points, you have gotten used to the waiting. Stay the course! One of these years, it's bound to be your turn. 

Nonresidents

Oddly enough the archery permit, which is one of the most sought after units in the state, drew in the maximum point pool for an archery hunt. Unit 10, although not trending in the right direction for the dinosaurs it has produced in the past, is still a very solid unit for hunters looking to break 80”+. With a little luck, that unit could produce another giant. I wouldn't expect this trend to continue, but if it does and you have any archery skills at all, this is a choice you should seriously consider. If not, then, apply for what you believe to be the best unit and hunt based on your goals. Research and apply for a hunt you would be content with as a second choice. Your luck is bound to change at some point. 

What can I expect with over 20 antelope bonus points?

This is bound to be a bad joke or a real good one depending on your personality. Having over 20 points for antelope sounds like an oxymoron. Hopefully, you have had some luck with the other species in the Grand Canyon State and this will finally be your year. Given the dramatic difference in trophy class from the top shelf units to the units you can draw in the maximum point pool, be very careful of the year you apply, always purchase your Point Guard, and either plan a lot of time in the unit you draw or look towards hiring some local help to ensure you get the most of this very hard-earned hunt.

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